You’ve no doubt heard of this illustrious fiber. A bond between two people may shatter with ease but “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (1) We often acknowledge the presence of the third strand through unity candles or co-mingling elements on a wedding day, but we miss the grandness of this coupling if we relegate it to a symbolic act. Marriage is more than a ceremony. Gloriously more.
God wasn’t a guest at your wedding. The day you made your vows, he participated in active agreement, invisible yet majestic in glory. If a pastor officiated your ceremony, he or she said something like, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and these witnesses to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.” You stood with your man just as I did with mine. By our actions we said, “God, he is the one.” And the Lord joined us to our husbands. (2)
The Almighty wasn’t distracted by my grandiose daydreams of life as a wife. He knew all the hard times to come, the difficult conversations and painful circumstances. The Lord saw the days when I wouldn’t want to consider Jared better than myself, (3) or forgive as I have been forgiven. (4) Yet he stood as witness to our union, providing a resounding “so be it” in the heavens as we vowed to honor and cherish for as long as we both shall live.
My vows weren’t foolish promises, although in challenging moments I question my sanity. God’s third strand compensates for where we lack. The divine design of marriage necessitates his daily involvement because we can’t uphold our solemn words without him. The threads of his tapestry hold our marriage together when everything else unravels.
To prepare for our pending nuptials, Jared and I wrote our own wedding vows. I spent hours guzzling lattes, making every attempt to draft passionate yet feasible affirmations. Noble, heart-moving words felt most appropriate, but I had a better chance at becoming Wonder Woman than fulfilling lofty proclamations.
“I will always honor and respect you.” Always? Maybe sometimes.
“I will submit to you joyfully as the head of our family.” Umm . . . I’ll try not to fight against your leadership? Yeah, that sounds encouraging.
Expecting to fail was to admit defeat before we even began. But to preface each vow with “I will try” was a worse alternative. With flushed cheeks and a diverted gaze, I admitted this concern during premarital counseling, hoping for supernatural insight, or at least a superhero cape.
“Vows are hard,” our pastor said.
A wedding happens once. Each day afterward is an opportunity to say, “I still do.” Choosing permanence in our marriages and proclaiming “Amen and Amen” to ourselves when it comes time to practice the promises we made. Vows represent what we work toward and strive for throughout our entire marriage. Some promises are all or nothing—you either protect fidelity or you don’t. But others endure as works in progress as we learn to love and honor each other. No wonder we need God’s company.
When two work together, we get a better return. (5) We share strength and warmth. But what happens when the bed is cold?
When one falls because the other pushed them, or isn’t around to help them stand again? When a bride works on her marriage solo, her nerves and energy soon fray. As I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, I didn’t picture “becoming one” with my husband through terse conversations and irrational reactions. That’s the value of the third strand—when one or both of you fail, God picks you up. Even better than the important faith-filled loyalty one spouse shows another is the Lord’s faithfulness to your union.
You are not alone. He longs to hold the fragile moments of your relationship, to fortify delicate bonds with the tight-knit fabric of his presence.
God wants to be involved in our marriages—praise his holy name!— but we must include him. In the same way he grants free will to receive salvation, he will not force his involvement in our homes. As a Gentleman, the Lord waits for me to invite him into my relationship.
We must let God be the third strand.